Mercedes-Benz GLE Review
Large, luxurious SUV offers a great feeling of comfort and refinement but isn’t for shy, retiring types due to its sheer size
Strengths & weaknesses
- Imposing presence
- Impressively smooth ride
- Real sense of luxury
- Sometimes feels overly large
- Smaller engines have to work too hard
- Limited range of trim options
One of the most appealing aspects of a large SUV is the fact that it feels big, tough, and strong. Drivers and passengers alike can enjoy sitting raised up above the other traffic. If that’s your main motivation for buying a large, luxurious SUV, then the Mercedes GLE could be the ideal choice.
In fact, it’s so large – and boasts such presence – that the alloy wheels seem rather small, even though all UK cars get mammoth 20-inch wheels. Oddly enough, that sense of size is actually a bit of an illusion, because it’s not physically much bigger than its rivals; the GLE simply looks and feels bigger than it is. Whether or not you feel that’s a good thing depends entirely on your perspective.
On the inside, that sense of size is complimented by a real sense of cosseting, high-tech luxury. Chunky and supportive leather seats hold you in place, and everything you can see or touch feels like it’s of the very highest quality.
When you sit in the driving seat, laid out in front of you above an array of four air vents is the same media system format that made its debut in the A-Class family hatch last year. In the GLE, the two 12.3-inch screens that seem to form one single slab of screen look very impressive, but can prove a little overwhelming until you get used to them.
Elsewhere in the cabin, there’s plenty of space whatever seat you’re sitting in, plus a decent amount of luggage capacity. The two optional boot-mounted seats that turn the car into a seven-seater are not going to suit anybody except smaller children, however, so don't think of this as a serious people carrier.
Out on the road, the GLE feels superbly comfortable, soaking away bumps and poor-quality road surfaces. It’s quiet, too, in keeping with the luxury feel of the rest of the car. The lowest-powered 300d features a diesel engine that has got plenty of on-paper punch, but on the road somehow feels like it’s trying a little too hard to lug the heavy GLE around – the larger six-cylinder petrol and diesel models feel a little more effortless and more in keeping with the car's luxurious feel.
Effortlessness is the watchword for how the GLE behaves, too. This is not the sort of car you would want to drive too hard through a series of bends, as your passengers are unlikely to thank you. Better to cruise along and enjoy the the surprisingly impressive fuel economy – in four-cylinder, diesel-powered 300d form at least – and the flexible and smooth nine-speed automatic gearbox.
The new GLE is now also available in plug-in hybrid form, with the 350de being announced to bring an even more economical option to the table.
Best Mercedes-Benz GLE for...
Best for Economy – GLE 350de 4MATIC
While the selection of diesel engines are all relatively frugal in their own way, the 256.8mpg claimed by the soon to arrive 350de pug-in hybrid takes the economy crown by a long way. If saving money on fuel is your thing, the 350de is a no-brainer.
Best for Families – Mercedes GLE 350 d 4MATIC AMG Line 7 Seats
Seven seats is the key here for family motoring – while the extra get up and go offered by the six-cylinder diesel is welcome, too. Just don't expect to fit larger children in the tight rear seats.
Best for Performance – GLE 450 4MATIC AMG Line
The addition of hybrid power to the smooth 3.0-litre petrol engine gives the GLE 450 quite a bit of shove; it’s the speedy GLE of choice until the high-performance AMG models arrive.
Spring 2019 First deliveries of all-new Mercedes-Benz GLE
September 2019 350de plug-in hybrid GLE announced
Understanding Mercedes-Benz GLE names
The GLE offers a selection of petrol and diesel engines. The badges bear little relationship to the size of the engines; the 300d is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel.
All GLEs come with four-wheel drive - signified by '4MATIC' and a nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Trim AMG Line
The sporty-looking AMG Line is currently the only trim level available for the GLE in the UK
Mercedes-Benz GLE Engines
300d, 350d, 400d, 350de, 450
The Mercedes GLE is available with five engines – three standard diesel options alongside a diesel plug-in hybrid and a petrol hybrid.
Most humble is the 300d. This is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. Although it is a little less sophisticated-sounding than the six-cylinder choices, it is still plenty powerful enough – it will get the big SUV from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds – and still return more than 46mpg if you drive gingerly.
For truly effortless-feeling performance, though, the 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesels are the models to go for. These come in two flavours: a 272hp version labelled 350d and a 330hp version labelled 400d. The latter is capable of getting from 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds.
If you're after something with a tinge of green to it, then the plug-in hybrid 350de will be your go-to. Bringing performance comparable to the 400d but also offering fuel economy and emissions figures in a whole new league.
|Fuel type||Fuel economy||Power||Acceleration (0-62mph)||Top speed|
|350de||Diesel plug-in hybrid||156.8mpg||320hp||6.8 seconds||130mph|
|450||Petrol hybrid||33.6mpg||367hp||5.7 seconds||155mph|
Mercedes-Benz GLE Trims
The trim levels for UK-spec GLEs are pretty simple: whatever engine you go for, you can specify your GLE as an AMG Line and, er, that’s it. Still, AMG Line features a pretty long list of standard kit, as it includes black nappa leather seats and steering wheel, an AMG bodykit, active parking assist, blind spot assist and traffic sign assist, among much else.
Mercedes-Benz GLE Reliability and warranty
It’s too soon to really have any data on how reliable the new GLE is, but the unlimited-mileage warranty Mercedes provides will offer you peace of mind for the first three years of ownership.
Used Mercedes-Benz GLE
You won’t see many used GLEs of the latest model available for sale yet, but its predecessor was a popular large SUV. Go for one of those and you’ll be missing out on a little of the new car’s high-tech, luxury feel, however, though the exterior looks are pretty similar.